Special Economic Zone Bill will shape Namibia’s economic landscape

Martin Endjala

The Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Lucia Iipumbu, said that the drafted Special Economic Zone Bill (SEZ), has the potential to shape the economic landscape of the country and pave the way for significant growth and development.

She said the concept of Special Economic Zones has proven to be a catalyst for economic transformation in various parts of the world.

She added that by creating designated areas with favourable business conditions and incentives, the government aims to attract both domestic and foreign investments, foster innovation, and generate employment opportunities.

“Today, we embark on a journey to tailor this concept to our unique needs and aspirations as a country as we strive to have it as a law to replace the Economic Processing Zone (EPZ) which brought about various challenges,” said the Minister during a public consultation held yesterday in Oshakati on four key policy and legislative framework documents with the main aim to gain the much-needed inputs.

She said the public consultation is specifically seeking valuable contributions on the drafted Special Economic Zone Bill (SEZ), National Informal Economy, Startups and Entrepreneurship Development Policy (NIESED), Namibia Investment Promotion and Facilitation Regulations and National Cooling Strategy.

The establishment of SEZ is further said to significantly boost industrialisation, enhance export capabilities, and stimulate economic growth in regards to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) readiness of Namibia’s participation.

Iipumbu maintained that they must address concerns related to environmental sustainability, labour rights, and the equitable distribution of economic benefits across the country.

The minister indicated that the four northern regions including Kunene remain strategic in terms of benefiting from the SEZ regime given their proximity to neighbouring countries in terms of the ease of exports of products from the designated zones.

Hence the importance of using this law to ensure that it creates an avenue for value addition to its resources to create much-needed jobs.

Subsequently, the Minister stressed that there must be consideration of all social implications of SEZs, by ensuring that the economic benefits are shared equitably among all segments of society.

Moreover, she advised that the SEZ Bill should be crafted with a forward-looking approach, incorporating measures to promote innovation, research and development, and the integration of new technologies.

By doing so, they can position themselves as a hub for cutting-edge industries, attracting both domestic and foreign investments that will fuel economic progress.

One of the key objectives is to provide a conducive environment for startups and entrepreneurs to thrive, for they are the engines of innovation, driving economic growth and job creation. The policy aims to create a supportive ecosystem that encourages the birth and growth of new enterprises, ensuring that they have the necessary resources, mentorship, and infrastructure to thrive.

She reaffirmed that the ministry remains committed to fostering an inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurial culture, as the policy will address the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, young startups, and those from marginalised communities.

This she said, will be done by promoting diversity and inclusivity, to unlock the untapped potential within the society and build a more resilient and dynamic economy.

The minister urged Namibians to seize this opportunity to shape the future of the economic landscape collaboratively, adding that the success of this Bill, regulations, policy and strategy lies in the collective efforts and the wisdom gathered from diverse viewpoints.

She believes together, the ministry together with stakeholders can create a framework that not only attracts investments and stimulates economic growth but also upholds values, protects the environment, and promotes inclusive prosperity.

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